Fire Lighters (Starters)
How do Fire Lighters work?
Fire Lighters work by striking a Ferro rod with a steel scraper that in turn create hot sparks. Some rods have magnesium, and magnesium gets very hot, (over 5000 degrees F. ) so if you scrape a few shavings of magnesium on your tinder, this will greatly increase your fuel supply and probably guarantee your chances of lighting your fire.
By striking the Ferro rod with the striker, you create showers of sparks towards your tinder. Once you have a live ember in your tinder, you gently blow on the ember until it starts to grow and as it grows and gets hotter, this ignites the rest of the tinder until you have a fire.
Depending what you're using for tinder, this process could take a few seconds or a couple of minutes or much longer.
What's with the black coating on the fire rod's
This is a protective coating that is covering the Ferro rod. You need to scrape this protective coating off before you'll be able to produce any sparks. It comes off very easy, you can use your striker or a knife to scrape the coating off and then you can start using the Ferro rod to produce the shower of sparks you're looking for.
How long do Fire Lighters last?
Depending on the size of the Ferro rod, thickness and length, you can have anywhere from 3,000 to 20,000 strikes from one unit. Some small rods, about 3/16" thick and 3" long might only last for 3 or 4,000 strikes. A bigger Ferro rod, 1/2" thick and 8 " long is said to have over 20,000 strikes to them.
Depending how dry your tinder is and what the weather conditions are, will determine how many strikes it will take you to light your fire. So if you use 20 strokes every time you start a fire, your rod will not last as long as it would if you started your fire with your first or second stroke.
The average camper would be very hard pressed to use more than 20,000 strikes in their life time.
What's a good natural fire starting material?
If you have it, Birch Bark is as good as it gets. You can shave the bark for extra fine tinder and the bark itself ignites very easily. Witches hair is a lichen that grows on conifer trees (Evergreens, like Spruce, Fir and Pine) and is also a very good natural fire starter.
Using small dead spruce branches (the size of a pencil and smaller) and mixed in with some witches hair, always makes for a good fire starter.
If you can find pitch on the tree, use it, this makes for a very good igniter as the resin is very flammable. Any dry dead wood, as long as it's not punky, will usually produce a very good burning fire.
Dry grass, pine or spruce cones also make good fire starters.
What's a good Fire Starter I can bring from home?
Dryer lint is a very good item to collect and save over time. Make the lint into a small ball and add some paraffin wax to it and let it harden. You can also cut toilet paper rolls in half, fill with dryer lint dipped in some petroleum jelly and wrap these up with some wax paper, leaving enough sticking out of each end to twist into a wax paper wick. Light the wick and watch it burn for a good 4 minutes, giving you lots of time to add fuel to your fire.
Newspaper, shredded paper, even dried used napkins and paper towels (Especially greasy ones) all make good fire starters.
Vaseline and cotton balls can be made for pennies each, plus they're water proof because the Vaseline is oil based.
Cheetos's, Doritos's and most chips can also be used to start your fire, and they're probably easier than trying to light the bag on fire.
Can I light my gas stove with a Ferro Rod?
Yes, you can safely light any kind of butane, white gas, propane or naphtha gas stoves with a Ferro rod. Make sure you don't crack the knob fully on when you're lighting your stove. You want just a bit of gas coming through when you direct your sparks towards them, and you want your rod as close as you safely can to the burner.
Practice with a match or bar-b-q lighter first, until you know the safest way to light your stove, without getting burned or having it blow up in your face, then practice with your Ferro rod.
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